Navigating drone laws may be tricky for operators in Chicago

(Published July 31, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger, Staff writer

It may be tempting to fly a drone downtown whether to get a bird’s eye view on the Lollapalooza crowds or to get a unique shot of the skyline, it may be impossible to do so legally. 

Chicago’s laws allow drone operators to fly their craft with a permit, but according to afficionados, getting a permit is near impossible thanks to confusing, byzantine rules. 

“All drones are restricted unless given a permit for flying,” said Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer of Chicago Police Department. 

In addition to a permit, operators have to get permission from the property owner and in the case of Grant Park, that would be the Chicago Parks District. Without that permission and without a permit, operators face citations. 

Jeffrey Antonelli is a drone enthusiast and also a lawyer, and he believes the city’s laws wouldn’t stand up in court. Antonelli points out that since the Federal Aviation Administration regulates air space and not the city, Chicago’s air regulations would probably be thrown out if someone challenged them in court. Nevertheless, Antonelli said he doesn’t fly drones in the city.

Alan Perlman, CEO of UAV Coach, a drone training company, said the FAA classified Grant Park airspace as Class G, meaning it is uncontrolled airspace, so recreational drone pilots should be able to fly there under federal law. 

Even so, getting a permit is hard. 

Antonelli said some people have tried getting a permit from the park district and while he’s heard some success stories, he’s been unable to get one. 

“The city doesn’t have a uniform answer,” Antonelli said. 

A spokesperson for the parks district could not explain how to get a permit. 

The FAA mandates that people cannot fly drones over people or cars for safety concerns and pilots must be able to see their drone at all times and they cannot fly higher than 400 feet.

Perlman said people should first learn how to use their drone. 

“You are bringing a flying lawnmower into the air. It’s really important to have intimate understanding of how the aircraft works.” 

Celebrating two years at the American Writers Museum

(Published July 30, 2019)

Elisa Shoenbergeer, Staff writer

The American Writers Museum celebrated its two year anniversary in May 2019.

This museum, located at 180 N. Michigan Avenue on the 2nd floor, first opened its doors in May 2017. Since opening their doors, the museum has had over 80,000 visitors and around 10,000 students, according to Carey Cranston, President of the Museum.

When asked why the museum’s work is so important, Cranston explained, “The country was founded on the written word. It’s very much a part of the fabric of our culture how important that writing has been.” He cited the example of Frederick Douglass whose work on slavery helped change the history of the US.

In its two years, the museum featured special exhibitions on Bob Dylan, Frederick Douglass as well as bringing in authors and scholars, such as Nnedi Okorafor and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, to speak about their work. 

Moreover, the museum’s education program has grown in the past two years.  In the first year, the museum had a grant to make field trips free for under resourced schools to bring the students into the museum, explained Cranston. The museum has developed curriculum for kids during their time at the visit as well as lessons before and after the visit for teachers.

This past year, the museum was able to offer travel subsidies since bringing the students to the museum was a barrier for some schools. Cranston explained that this field trip programs helped inspire kids about writing. When they had Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak about her children’s book, Turning Pages: My Life Story, school children from Horace Greeley Elementary School had the opportunity to meet with her before her talk in the Green room and ask questions of her during her talk to a room of 700 people.

Recently, the museum opened up “Tools of the Trade” at the end of June that features the typewriters of many American writers, such as John Lennon, Ernest Hemmingway, Ray Bradbury, Sandra Cisneros and many more. The museum found that visitors were fascinated by manual typewriters ever since the museum opened. “We found people loved the old manual typewriters,” said Cranton. “When the kids on the field trips come, they go nuts for the chance to type on them.” The museum worked with Steve Soboroff, a collector and philanthropist, along with other institutions to bring the typewriters of famous authors to the museum. 

The exhibit will be open until 2020.

The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

7 face charges after Cloud Gate, cancer memorial targeted with graffiti

(Published July 3, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Days after Chicago police arrested seven people for spraying graffiti on the Maggie Daley Park Cancer Survivor’s Wall and Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate, AKA The Bean, the graffiti is gone.

By Wednesday morning, throngs of tourists were again snapping selfies at the Bean, the iconic Chicago landmark, even as the police say they are still investigating the incident and all seven suspects remain without charge.

The police would not release the names or ages of the suspects, although a police spokesperson reported that the suspects include four adult males, two adult females and one male juvenile.

The spokesperson said CPD will release more information once the seven people have been charged.

Among some symbols, the tags included the words “35th Street Crew,” though the police spokesperson would not offer an explanation for that.

More generally, in June police Sergeant Anthony Dombrowski told New Eastside residents at the monthly CAPS meeting that graffiti is an ongoing issue in the neighborhood. He said some gang-related graffiti had been spotted by a New Eastside resident who reported it and it was cleaned up.

“If you do see graffiti,” Dombrowski said, “If you can take a picture of it and send it to the alderman’s office and send it to our office and we’ll get rid of it.”

Goodman Theatre offers ‘Music Man’ revival

(Published June 30, 2019)

Goodman Theatre opened its revival of the Tony-Award winning musical, “‘The Music Man” last month, running through Aug. 4 in the 856-seat Albert Theatre. Tickets are $45-$142 and available at GoodmanTheatre.org/MusicMan, by phone at 312-443-3800 or the box office at the Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn. 

The New York Times calls the show “musical comedy at its feel-good best” that “glows with enjoyment.” Tony Award-winning Director Mary Zimmerman helms the production, her 16th at the Goodman. 

“The Music Man,” written by Meredith Willson, based on the story by Willson and Franklin Lacey, opened on Broadway in 1957 and garnered five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and was later adapted for the screen. 

Zimmerman’s production is led by Geoff Packard as the charismatic con man Harold Hill, who stumbles upon River City, Iowa with the grand promise of a marching band, but a lack of musicality. Monica West stars as Marian Paroo, the local librarian who knows of Harold’s deceit. 

After a delay in construction, Lakeshore East children’s play area project will wrap in early July

Construction on the new play area at Lakeshore East Park started later than expected, June 17, but Community Relations Director announced the delay June 7. In an email sent to area residents, Casciano cited unforeseen “underground conditions.”

The Lakeshore East park will also features live music every Wednesday evening, except July 3. 

CPD seek community business partners

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) launched a new community policing initiative designed to build and foster a collaborative partnership with local businesses in communities across Chicago.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched the program in June in response to violence in and around business areas. 

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and if we want our neighborhoods to thrive and grow, then we have to ensure we’re supporting our local entrepreneurs while rooting out any bad actors,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a press release. “This initiative is not only about building partnerships and nurturing trust between small businesses, it represents a new era of collaboration between the Chicago Police Department and our communities.

All police districts will have a designated Business Liaison Officer to work closely with the District Commander and BACP to provide positive engagement opportunities for entrepreneurs, address chronic problems or concerns of business owners and improve overall public safety through collaboration with the community.

Each Business Liaison Officer will work directly with businesses in their district to establish engagement strategies to encourage positive community interactions and relationships. Districts will hold monthly community meetings with all local business owners to strengthen the ties between entrepreneurs and their communities by notifying residents of available neighborhood workforce opportunities and ensuring all businesses are connected to city network services and resources. These new meetings specifically focus on local business concerns and opportunities versus the broader community public safety issues discussed at CAPS meetings.

This new initiative is part of the Chicago Police Department’s community policing strategies and its ongoing efforts to improve the communication and cooperation between police officers and the communities they serve.

Grant Park Music Festival is underway

Through August, starting at 6:30pm every Wednesday and Friday and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, enjoy free admission to beloved classical performances. Audiences can also attend open rehearsals, docent-led talks, and pre-concert lectures throughout the week.

Please visit the Grant Park Music Festival website, grantparkmusicfestival.com, for up-to-date information about weekly special guests.

Roosevelt Collection to feature new restaurant from Food Network star

In June the Roosevelt Collection Shops announced The Lucky Well,  a new restaurant will join the center in early 2020. The Lucky Well is known for its Memphis-style dry-rub meats, is led by chef Chad Rosenthal, a chef featured on The Food Network’s “Chopped Grill Masters.”  

The Roosevelt Collection location will focus on barbecue, top-shelf whiskey and classic craft cocktails within a live blues atmosphere.

“It has been so exciting to work with Chad on bringing this concept to Chicago,” said Shannon Ridgeway, general manager of Roosevelt Collection Shops. “We’re thrilled to add another growing small business to Roosevelt Collection and bring this new experience to our neighbors and Chicago locals.”

LondonHouse rooftop to offer pop up Japenese shaved ice shop

LH Rooftop, the tri-level rooftop bar and restaurant at LondonHouse Chicago, launches a month-long pop-up serving kakigori – a Japanese style of shaved ice known for its delicate texture – at the rooftop’s outdoor cupola. An alternative frozen treat during National Ice Cream Month, the kakigori is available on weekends in July, and guests can enjoy a variety of artisanal shaved ice flavors, which they may customize with boozy additions. Shaved ice flavors include Golden Raspberry/Watermelon, Black Sesame, and Spiced Condensed Milk for $10 each. Guests can indulge in a kakigori cocktail by adding spirits for an additional $4. Spirits include Kahlua, Malibu Cream, or Appleton Estate 12-Year rum. LondonHouse Chicago’s LH Rooftop is 85 E. Upper Wacker Dr., Floor 22-23. Table reservations at LH Rooftop can be made via OpenTable or by calling 312.253.2317.

Grant Park Music Festival Salutes July 4

(Published June 18, 2019)

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

The Grant Park Musical Festival presents “Independence Day Salute” on July 4, at 6:30 p.m. in Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion.

The orchestral presentation, performed by the Grant Park Orchestra and conducted by Christopher Bell, will feature classic patriotic music including “1812 Overture,” Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” the “Armed Forces Salute” and more. The performance will feature Grant Park Orchestra principal flute Mary Stolper and Grant Park Chorus baritone John Orduña.

Free seats are available on the lawn or in most of the seating bowl. For those who wish to purchase reserved seating, one night member passes are available. Call 312-742-7647 or go online at gpmf.org to get a pass.

Millennium Park requires extra security for all its Pritzker Pavilion concerts and bag checks will be conducted.. No outside alcohol is allowed at this performance, but beer and wine will be available for purchase at concession stands inside the park. Lines open at 3:30 p.m.

For those that cannot make the performance, it will be broadcast live on 98.7 WFMT and online at wfmt.com/streaming. Also, a free rehearsal performance will take place at the Pavilion at 10:30 a.m. on July 3.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois remind residents to plan now for extreme weather

(Published June 4, 2019)

For the News

From tornadoes to hurricanes to floods, Illinois is now in extreme weather season and to be safe, it pays to prepare now for weather emergencies

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) would like to offer a few tips to help residents prepare for the weather.

First, follow this top 10 list of things to put in any weather preparedness kit.

1. Nonperishable food (three days’ worth for each person)

2. Water (one gallon per person, for at least three days)

3. First aid kit (include bandages, pain relievers, prescription medications)

4. Flashlights and/or lanterns, and extra batteries

5. Portable battery charger for devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets)

6. Tarps, waterproof tape

7. Multi-tool with wrench to turn off utilities

8. Cash

9. Copies of critical information (e.g. insurance cards, identification, bank account)

10.Any special supplies for children (diapers, games, etc.) and pets

It seems extreme weather is the new normal for our planet. With very little warning, families must face the devastating effects of floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. People may lose their homes, jobs, possessions, and even family members’ lives during these disasters. The last thing they should have to worry about is if they have their prescription medications, eyeglasses or insurance cards.

Fortunately, when Blue Cross Blue Shield members need them, the Seasons of Life team members are there to help. Blue Cross Blue Shield customer advocates proactively call members in declared disaster areas to check in and help them do the things they cannot easily do in times of crisis – replacing insurance ID cards, refilling lost prescriptions or accessing in-network doctors if the member or their doctor is displaced. They also can arrange for members to participate in a virtual visit with a health professional.

In 2018, the Seasons of Life  program reached out to 18,663 members during disasters. To find out more about the program, visit their website, bcbsil.com.

Reorganized GPAC looking for community input

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

The newly-reorganized Grant Park Advisory Council met in May to seek input from area residents and to announce meeting dates.

President Leslie Recht said the council will meet the third Wednesday of every month aside from July and December, at the Maggie Daley Field House. Recht said the group will soon have a Facebook page and website, and she welcomes community input.  

“You should be able to attend a number of meetings,” she told the audience of about 20. “They will be here at 6:30 in the evening.” She said GPAC will not call last-minute meetings.

Recht also announced Maggie Daley Park will host a party for the park district.

“This is the 85th birthday for the Chicago Park District and Maggie Daley was chosen as one of the party sites, and we’re celebrating June 20 with (the movie) ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet,’” she said.

Movies begin at sundown.

During the meeting, various subcommittee heads offered updates. GPAC vice-president and safety and security committee co-chair Jim Wales, a former police officer, encouraged residents to make suggestions and get involved with the group.

“We are looking for people who have an interest in that specific area in Grant Park and if you want to serve on any committee, and you’re not precluded to serving on more than one committee.”  

Subcommittees include safety and security, maintenance and infrastructure, permits and leases, cultural affairs, long range planning, skateboard park and recreation and special interests.

Contact the group at their email address gpacchicago@gmail.com.

New speed limits passed for Lakeshore East Park

(Published May 30, 2019)

After residents complained to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office about motorists speeding around Lakeshore East Park, the Chicago City Council introduced 20 mile per hour speed limits on North Field Boulevard, East South Water Street, North Westshore Drive, North Park Drive and East Benton Place.

The streets front several residential towers as well as GEMS World Academy and people frequently cross the streets with bags of groceries from Mariano’s or with dogs. Several area residents, said they didn’t think speeding had ever been a problem.

“I don’t think speeding was a problem,” Kevin Zheng said. “People were driving pretty slow already.”

“I don’t think speeding was a problem,” Kevin Zheng said. “People were driving pretty slow already.”

Lakeshore East play area to re-open in early June

The Magellan Development Group announced in May that the children’s play area in the park would close through early June because the group will add playground equipment for children. The equipment will include slides, swings and playsets.

The Lakeshore East Master Association is responsible for the upgrade and a re-opening event will be held, though the date was not set as of press deadline.

Part Illinois Center, other high rises, up for sale

A New York real estate firm, AmTrust Realty, is looking offload a slew of downtown properties for a deal which could fetch $1.4 billion, according to Crain’s.

The buildings include two towers in the Illinois Center, 233 Michigan Ave., as well as buildings at 111 E. Wacker Drive, 233 N. Michigan Ave., 135 S. LaSalle St., 1 E. Wacker Drive, 30 N. LaSalle, 33 N. Dearborn St. and 33 W. Monroe St.

LH Rooftop to host pop-up rose bar

In honor of National Rosé Day on June 8, LH Rooftop, the tri-level rooftop bar and restaurant at LondonHouse Chicago, will launch a weekend-long rosé pop-up bar. Partnering with Gérard Bertrand, among other winemakers, LH will offer dozens of rosé wines by the glass ($14-18 per glass), still and sparkling, from around the world for three days only.

Guests can enjoy their rosé sampling in the crown jewel of LH Rooftop, the Cupola – which will be decked out in rosé-all-day fashion with pink-clad lights, florals, and additional décor. LondonHouse is located at 85 E Wacker Dr, Chicago.

Residential tower to replace parking garage on Randolph

Developers Moceri and Roszak have proposed a 25-story, 241 unit multi-family rental and condo building with a retail base located at 50-60 East Randolph. Currently, there is a three story valet parking garage on the site.

The proposed 25-story structure includes 6,400 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, with two stories of parking and 22 stories of residential and amenity space above. Residential units range from 550 square foot studios to 2,600 SF four-bedroom penthouse units. The proposal includes 190 apartment units and 24 condominiums.

This is a transit served location, in close proximity to both the Washington & Wabash CTA Station and Millennium Metra Station, and will provide 70 accessory parking stalls. The garage will be accessible only via Benton Place to the north of the site. The existing triple wide curb cut on Randolph Street currently servicing the valet garage will be eliminated.

Sidewalk landscaping includes planters with low vegetation on Wabash due to the proximity of the L-tracks. Similar planter landscaping on Randolph is punctuated by four tall shade trees.

The underlying zoning for this project is DX-16. The proposal adheres to the underlying zoning, and is nearly 150 feet shorter than the maximum allowable height, measuring to a total of 293 feet tall.

Although the proposal does not require city council approval, it must obtain Lakefront Protection Application approval from the Chicago Plan Commission to ensure that the building does not impede access to the Chicago Lakefront or inflict harm on the natural lakefront environment.

Resident comments and observations are welcome and should be emailed to development@ward42chicago.com.

Mariano’s to undergo remodeling in June

The Benton Place Mariano’s will undergo remodeling in June.

Company spokesperson Amanda Puck said the remodeling should not affect customers and it won’t close the store. She also said the extent of the renovations aren’t yet clear.

“We’re going to make some great enhancements to the customers’ experience, we don’t know what that means yet.” Puck said. However, she said the hot foot bar upstairs will be remodeled, as will the wine bar and the produce section.

She said renovations are scheduled to wrap up in October.

In addition, the company is considering buying shopping carts that will automatically freeze their wheels at the doorway, meaning residents may not be able to take the carts to the residence. The move comes after months of complaints by building managers about empty carts abandoned at residential doorways.

Lakeshore Park summer movie series announced

The Magellan Property Group has announced the summer film lineup for the Park at Lakeshore East.

Every month, starting in June, families can gather in the park for arts and music at 7 p.m. and stay for a movie beginning at 8:30 p.m. The series begins June 20 with “Goonies.” On July 25 the movie will be “Mary Poppins Returns,” and finally on Aug. 22 the film will be “The Notebook.”

All events are free.

Several options available for fresh, local vegetables

(Published May 29, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

With summer comes fresh, local produce.

In Streeterville, this means the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents’ (SOAR) annual farmer’s market which will return June 4 and continue through the end of October, opening every Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s front plaza.

But, even if Tuesday’s are inconvenient, residents can now get fresh, home-delivered produce thanks to a new and customizable straight-from-the-farm delivery service, courtesy of Angelic Organics. That service will begin June 24.

John Peterson is a farmer who owns Angelic Organics, one of the very earliest community supported agriculture (CSA) farms in the area. The farm is located in Caledonia, two hours outside of Chicago.

Angelic Organics relies on “shareholders” to sign up for weekly fresh produce boxes and Peterson said he’s happy to pack and substitute whatever clients want.

“We’re now doing customized boxes,” Peterson said. “People choose ahead of time the vegetables they like and they don’t like and they don’t get what they don’t want. That’s a breakthrough for community agriculture.”

Peterson said his boxes are filled with the same range of vegetables available at a farmer’s market.

Peterson hopes to  begin June 24. Shareholders get 20 weekly deliveries or 10 bi-weekly deliveries of a ¾ bushel box, which Peterson said is about 1.5 paper grocery bags filied with vegetables. Each deliver is $40, though there is an extra $12 for home delivery service.

There are no pickup sites in Streeterville or New Eastside, though the delivery service does deliver to the neighborhoods.

To find out more, visit the website, angelicorganics.com.

In the meantime, if residents can’t wait until the end of June to get fresh veggies, SOAR president Deborah Gershbein said all the vendors from last year are returning to this year’s market.

“We have about 45 tents out on the plaza with a variety of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables and herbs and baked goods and prepared foods and beautiful flowers,” Gershbein said.

Gershbein said as the months continue into fall, the produce will change so residents should check out the market each week.

“As the season warms up then we get asparagus, onions and those types of things, and then we get into strawberries,” she said.  

This year will also feature chef demonstrations. On June 25 the chef from SPACE 519 will prepare a dish made of market ingredients. While the market will open the first Tuesday of the month, a season opening ceremony for the market’s fifth season is set for noon, June 18.

“We will celebrate with a huge Eli’s Cheesecake, topped with fresh locally grown strawberries,” Gershbein said.

Travelle at the Langham to offer picnic baskets

(Published May 14, 2019)

Starting Memorial Day weekend, Travelle at The Langham launches picnic baskets for guests to enjoy outside the restaurant throughout the summer. Whether dining al fresco along the Chicago River, taking in a movie at Millennium Park, or traveling to Ravinia to enjoy a concert, these picnic baskets include everything needed for enjoying the warm weather in the great outdoors. With three different options to choose from, each picnic basket provides the perfect complement for savoring the beautiful summer days.

The contents of the picnic baskets range from stroll-worthy snacks and beverages to gourmet sandwiches and alcoholic pairings including wine and champagne.

  • City Tour Picnic Basket ($42 per person): The lightest of the baskets includes a variety of snacks and beverages for guests exploring the sights of Chicago during the day
  • Millennium Park Picnic Basket ($85 per person): Perfect for a sunny afternoon spent in the park, the standard package will include gourmet sandwiches and beverages with an option to add alcoholic beverages
  • Magnificent Mile Picnic Basket ($190 per person): Elevate an outdoor concert experience with an elaborate picnic basket including a delicious dinner for two complemented by wine or champagne

To order a picnic basket, please email Rachael at travelle@langhamhotels.com or call 312.923.7713; extension 4236.

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